At a Glance
It's a bare-bones set, but the picture earned high marks, as did the bargain price. It lacks burn-in prevention features.
Who knew that you could get an image this good for a mere grand? Even though the Vizio VP42 costs less than any other television in our November issue's HDTV roundup, and four of the TVs cost at least twice as much, it managed to come in second in our image-quality tests. If all you care about is the best picture for the best price, this is the flat-panel set to buy.
Such quality is all the more amazing when you consider its lack of 1080i or 1080p capabilities. Usually I can recognize a 1080p picture, especially when viewing chapter 7 of the Mission: Impossible III Blu-ray disc. But the VP42 had me completely fooled. (Of course, my previous 1080p experience was with significantly larger sets.)
We gave this television high marks straight down the line. Aside from a bit of shimmering on facial stubble in one test, I didn't see anything I didn't like.
Unfortunately I can't say the same for the VP42's setup and menu system, which were identical to those of the Vizio Gallevia GV42LF LCD set. Without exception, the inputs are difficult to get to, and the on-screen menus--which present you with small, blue text against a blue background--are needlessly hard to read. Another inconvenience: Once you've run the setup wizard, you can never run it again.
Nor are there many extra features beyond a convenient program guide--and even this failed to identify a number of the channels it was receiving. There's no headphone jack, and no USB port for displaying your photos and MP3s from an external player. The set does have picture-in-picture, but as there's no PiP button on the remote, the feature isn't particularly convenient to use.
Because this is a plasma set, burn-in may be an issue. Yet the VP42 is the only plasma we looked at that offers no burn-in prevention features. A Vizio representative assured me that it wasn't an issue; let's hope he's right. At a price like this, it's probably a chance worth taking.
The VP42's modest-size remote has many small, difficult-to-find buttons. It isn't programmable and has no PiP button, and the buttons don't glow in the dark.